Pittsburg State, on a three-game losing streak, fell behind 8-2 early in the first game of a Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association doubleheader Saturday afternoon against the Washburn Ichabods at the PSU Softball Complex.
The Gorillas, however, scored two in the second, three in the fourth and nine in the fifth during a 16-8 run-rule victory.
"Really happy about the relentless effort our offense showed," Pitt State head coach Elizabeth Economon said. "Some resiliency, a lot of fight. Never enjoy being down by six that early but did a good job overall of chipping away and having some good quality at-bats as a team. Nice to come back."
Washburn earned a split behind a five-run outburst in a 5-3 win in Game 2.
Pitt State collected its 16 runs on 15 hits but came back with three runs on seven hits in the nightcap.
"I was really happy with our offense in the first game," Economon said. "I wish we could have done that in the second game. We didn't show as much patience at the plate or didn't have the same quality of approach that we did in the first game. That's unfortunate. That's something we need to get better at, that's for sure."
In Game 1, Pitt State opened the scoring with two in the first, Brenna George scoring on a throwing error and Cheslyn Mitchell on a wild pitch.
Washburn scored eight in the second, highlighted by a Marina Quimby bases-clearing three-run triple.
Mitchell smacked a two-run homer in the second.
Pitt State managed no runs in the third, leaving the bases loaded, the only inning of the opener Pitt State went without scoring.
Tiffany Brown hit a solo homer in the fourth and Nicole Nease hit a two-run shot to cut the lead to 8-7 after four.
Then, came the nine-run explosion of the fifth — George RBI single, Mitchell RBI single, McKenzie Rynard RBI single, some unearned runs, Devon McCreath bases loaded walk, Jordan Bradshaw RBI single and George's walk-off sacrifice fly scoring Kylie Guthier.
In the second game, Rynard's two-run homer went for naught.
Sophomore pitcher Kylie Harpst earned the win in relief of starter Samantha Grove and held the Ichabods scoreless in the third, fourth and fifth innings of the opener, as well as the first four innings of Game 2. Harpst won and lost on Saturday.
"She had their number for quite a while," Economon said. "I don't know how many innings she ended up throwing on the day, seven or eight or so. She did her job, shutting them down for a good chunk of the day. They're a good hitting team so it was only a matter of time before they started figuring her out. We just needed to shut them out better."
Washburn scored all 13 of its runs on the day in two innings — eight in the second (Game 1) and five in the fifth (Game 2). In fact, in the first game, Washburn went hitless in every inning other than the second against Grove and Harpst.
Pitt State finished its weekend 1-3 against Emporia State and Washburn.
"First game yesterday was a tough one for us," Economon said. "They got out on us early and they have good pitching. They are No. 7 in the nation for a reason. They do a good job of shutting people out. They came out ready for us in the first game and took care of us.
"Now, the second game, we showed back up. We were great fighting late, even with two outs extra innings and getting big hits when we needed them. I really felt like we got our life back as a team there. We were more enthused, more intense and showed some good resiliency coming through and tying it up twice late in the game. Unfortunately, it didn't work out in our favor."
Pitt State came back from a tough 14-9 loss in extra innings — 9 innings — on Friday, where Rynard hit a two-run home run in the seventh and a three-run homer in the eighth, both game-tying shots to extend the game.
With the split on Saturday, Pitt State remained two games below .500 overall, 18-20.
"We emphasized taking that emotion, that enthusiasm and intensity that we had in Game 2 (against Emporia State) and rolling that right over into Game 1 (Saturday)," Economon said. "I felt it. We could see it from the get-go that we were in the game from pitch No. 1. It's tough to bounce back but it's the best thing about our sport. You get another chance the next day. It just keeps coming. You have to have a short memory, flush it and move on, and be stronger and learn from it."
Brown extended her school season record in home runs to 20 on Friday, 21 on Saturday.
"She does whatever we need whenever we need it," Economon said. "She's played four different positions this year, right, first, mound and been in left. She is our go-to and when we need a big hit, we usually get it. I think today (Game 2) was the exception. We didn't get it but I'd put my money on her every single time. She's the epitome of true ball player, one pitch at a time, always wants to be better and never satisfied."
Brown leads the Gorillas with a .448 average, 45 runs scored, 52 hits, 21 homers, 58 RBI, 119 total bases, 1.026 slugging percentage and .555 on-base percentage.
Rynard ranks second behind Brown in most offensive categories — .393 average, 25 runs, 42 hits, nine doubles, 12 home runs, 41 RBI, 89 total bases, .832 slugging percentage and .455 on-base percentage.
"She's been clutch," Economon said. "She had big RBI yesterday in big, key situations that we had to have them. She's been hitting the ball hard all year long, no matter what the situation, no matter who's the pitcher or who's the team, she's going up with a great approach and it's been working for her. We're happy to have her. When she's right behind Tiff, it makes both of them tougher for the opponent."
Brown and Rynard have combined for 33 homers and 99 RBI — 64.7 percent of the team's 51 homers and 48.7 percent of the team's 203 RBI.
The Gorillas are slated to play eight games — all home — in the next eight days, four doubleheaders against Rogers State, Missouri Southern, Fort Hays State and Nebraska-Kearney.
Pitt State owns a 5-11 MIAA mark.
GORILLAS 16, ICHABODS 8
WU 080 00 — 8 5 5
PSU 220 39 — 16 15 2
Lauren Thimmesch, Kaylee Erickson (5), Samantha Carson (5) and Deidra Jones. Samantha Grove, Kylie Harpst (2) and Nicole Nease. WP: Harpst (5-5). LP: Thimmesch (7-5). E: Carson 2, Shelby Erickson 2, K. Erickson; Devon McCreath, Jordan Bradshaw. HR: Cheslyn Mitchell, Tiffany Brown, Nease. 3B: Marina Quimby; Bradshaw. 2B: Nease. SF: Brenna George. HBP: Jones. LOB: WU 4, PSU 7.
ICHABODS 5, GORILLAS 3
WU 000 050 0 — 5 8 2
PSU 010 002 0 — 3 7 1
Marina Quimby and Deidra Jones. Kylie Harpst, Haleigh Sills (5) and Nicole Nease. E: Katie Schroeder, Jones; Cheslyn Mitchell. HR: McKenzie Rynard. 2B: Schroeder, Jordan Erickson; Mitchell. SH: Kylie Guthier. HBP: Lauren Thimmesch, Shelby Erickson. LOB: WU 6, PSU 6.